CTA’s Red Line Extension Project in Line for $1.9+ Billion Federal Grant

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Courtesy of CTA

CHICAGO – Over the weekend, the Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA, announced that its Red Line Extension Project is now entering its next phase.

Over the weekend, the Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA, announced that its Red Line Extension Project is now entering its next phase. The Red Line Extension would extend the Red Line from 95th to 130th on the South Side. Now, the extension project is in line for a grant totaling $1.973 billion to help with funding. According to the release, it’s the largest transit infrastructure grant awarded to the CTA in its history. 

The Mayor of Chicago, Brandon Johnson, commented on the historic grant and how it “[reverses] decades of disinvestment starts with providing accessible transportation for all residents of this city. . . Today’s announcement serves as an important milestone for this project as we move to enhance capillary connections to create a more connected and accessible Chicago. We will continue to work with stakeholders, the state, and federal government to ensure this project is moving full steam ahead.” 

“The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) notified CTA that the $3.6 billion RLE Project, which will extend the Red Line 5.6 miles to Chicago’s Far South Side, has advanced into the next phase of the federal ‘New Starts’ program – an important step to moving the project closer to groundbreaking. CTA can now begin the ‘Engineering’ phase of the project, which includes further design and engineering needed to build the project and identifies the federal grant dollars CTA can receive for the project once the engineering phase is completed and approved by FTA.”

The President of the CTA, Dorval R. Carter, Jr., underscored the importance of the project’s progress for Chicago’s South Side. He stated that “the Far South Side has been promised for 50 years that the Red Line would be extended to the city’s southern border, and today we can say that promise is significantly closer to being met. This project brings a wealth of job and training opportunities, and it enhances the quality of life for residents who will be able to access jobs and education more easily than ever before.”

Courtesy of CTA

With the Engineering phase continuing into next year, it anticipates another “funding award by the end of 2024 subject to federal review and approvals. The remaining funding will come from a $950 million Transit TIF approved by Chicago City Council last year and other sources.” 

As mentioned, the Red Line Extension Project will extend the Red Line from the 95th Street Terminal to 130thStreet, and it includes “four new accessible stations near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street, each of which would include bus, bike, pedestrian and parking facilities.” Passengers are expected to save up to 30 minutes traveling to and from the future 130th Street Station. Crews will also build a new rail yard and rail facilities to help improve operational efficiency for the Red Line.

The CTA outlined the benefits of the Red Line Extension. Among these are an “award-winning RLE Transit-Supportive Development (TSD) Plan in partnership with Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD). The Plan is a proactive effort to guide the future development of the long-disinvested communities located near the RLE project area, and it reflects the vision of those who currently reside and conduct business in these communities.” Moreover, the extension is expected to bring in more than 25,000 jobs in Cook County as well as opportunities for workplace training and participation by “small Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)-certified small businesses.”

State officials commended the Red Line Extension project. Congressman Mike Quigley maintained the importance of public transit for those who live and work in Chicago, stating that “for many, it is the best and only option to get to work, go to school, and visit family. . . As lead Democrat on the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I’m proud to have helped bring these federal dollars back home to support the Red Line Extension project. This project is a major step in building a more equitable transit system for our city, ensuring the benefits of public transit can be utilized by communities that have historically lacked access. I look forward to continuing to work with FTA, CTA, and the Illinois congressional delegation to move this project forward.”

Senator Dick Durbin said, “Improving our infrastructure means better connecting Chicagoans to jobs, education, commerce, and opportunity.  The Red Line Extension project will be transformative for South Side communities—providing an economic boost for a long-neglected area of the City and surrounding suburbs, producing an estimated 25,000 jobs in the coming years, while generating nearly $2 billion in pay to workers on the project, and more than $5 billion in total business output. . . I will continue to work alongside Senator Duckworth and state leaders to secure the resources needed to keep the Red Line Extension project on track.”

The Executive Director of the Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce, Andrea Reed, said “The CTA’s Red Line Extension Project will help to address decades of disinvestment on the Far South Side. . . I am pleased that this project is moving forward and is slated to receive federal support, and I encourage CTA to continue to ensure that this project commits to creating job and training opportunities and other quality of life improvements for residents in our community.”

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